James Monroe Riggs (1835-1912)

Born: 7 April 1835

Married: Narcisus Benton (died),  Elizabeth Drucella Hudson 11 Oct 1871 (divorced),  Sally Wilborn

Died: 10 Aug 1912

James Monroe Riggs

A sixth son arrived on 7 April 1835in Monroe County Mississippi and was named James Monroe Riggs. Often the younger children in a large family were named after someone famous such as a president and President James Monroe died in 1831.  Or some-times they were named after the County they were born in.  It is also possible that it is a family name on one side of the family or the other.  When James was born the family had possibly moved across the State line into Monroe County, Mississippi near Aberdeen.  Marion County, Alabama, and Monroe County, Mississippi, shared a common boundary, the Tombigbee River.  The country east of the river, although in Mississippi, was regarded in Alabama, and the country west was in Mississippi.  For several years the old pioneers voted with Marion county Alabama. The Alabama judges held courts and when delegates to frame the Constitution of Alabama were elected, the people living in Monroe voted with Marion county Alabama.  Had the family moved or had they been living all along in the area of controversy over the state line between Alabama and Mississippi?[1]  As a reminder, in the book “Mother Monroe” it states that Thomas Riggs operated a ferry above Aberdeen, Mississippi.  I don’t know which side of the river he lived on or exactly where the ferry was but they may not have moved at all, just the boundaries changed.

In 1862 James Monroe joined James R. Shaler’s Infantry, being recruited from Izard County Arkansas.  James was a 2nd Lieutenant and then a Lt. Colonel during the Civil war.  His brother, Barney Kemp served with him in Arkansas.  As a 1st Lt. James was captured 8 Apr 1862 and held as a POW at Alton, Illinois.  In Sept. 1862 he was taken to Vicksburg and released in a prisoner exchange.  He was age 27.

James married Narcisus Benton in Bandera County Texas. They went to Colorado with Brannick and his family and their mother, Rhoda Casey Riggs.  Not too long after they arrived in Colorado Narcisus died and is buried in the Wilcox Cemetery, Las Animas Colorado.

He then married Elizabeth Drucella Hudson 11 Oct 1871. She had a son, Richmond Lee Hudson when they married. They are the parents of Mattie b. 1872, John Dorsey b. 1874, Elizabeth (Lizzie) ;b. 1876p, Florence b. 1877 and Lula K. b. 1881.   James and Lizzie were the first to move to Arizona.  They settled in the Dos Cabezas area in what was then Pima County.   . James ran a store in Dos Cabezas called the Travelers Rest and did some prospecting.  According to his daughter, Mattie, he located the first gold mine in Dos Cabezas.  The ore from the mine had to be taken by wagon to Tucsonto be smelted.   James and Elizabeth divorced 18 Feb 1886.

James went back to Texas where he married Sarah “Sally” Wilborn.  They are the parents of Rhoda b. 1890, Ruth b. 1892, Samuel Houston b. 1894, Jessie b. 1896.

James Monroe Riggs died 10 Aug 1912 in Center, Shelby, Texas.

Tragedy seemed to be a part of the life of this family. In 1886 Lizzie’s son, Richmond Lee Hudson, was shot and killed by his step-cousin, Barney Kemp Riggs. Barney Kemp was the son of Thomas Riggs, a brother to Brannick and James Riggs, who lived in Ft. Stockton, Texas. Many bad things happened in the life of Martha (Mattie) Riggs, the oldest daughter of James Riggs. Her second husband, John Duncan, was shot and killed by Wylie Morgan at the NO ranch west of Willcox. Her third husband, Doc Goodin, injured his leg as a rotted floor gave way in his tack room. He died of blood poisoning. Lula Duncan, another daughter of James Riggs, died young in childbirth. All of the children of James and Lizzie Riggs settled on ranches in the Canello, Arizona area. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Riggs and all of her children are buried in the Black Oak Cemetery near Canello.

A descendant of his son, Samuel Houston Riggs, is included in the DNA Circle of Thomas Riggs.


[1] See the book “Tenn-Tom Country: The Upper Tombigbee Valley” by James F. Doster and David C. Weaver; The University of Alabama Press, 1987.